July 09, 2021

There’s a meme that has been around forever, and it seems to make its rounds when news is particularly bad. And yes, it’s a good life lesson when you think about it.

The picture behind it varies, but the wording is usually something like this: “I’ve had enough adulting for today. If anybody needs me, I’ll be coloring in my blanket fort.” Every time I see it come around, it has thousands of likes and shares. But I never stopped to really think about what it means.

I know, analyzing a meme may seem frivolous but just consider it for a second. The first reaction we often have (meme or not) when things get tough is to revert to a favorite or cherished childhood activity. That actually speaks volumes.

Kids get life in a way that adults don’t. This is funny in itself because all adults were kids once, which means we allowed other things to take away that childhood knowledge. I think that we could use reminders more often than casual meme circulation.

After some reflection, I’ve come up with a few life lessons that we can continue to learn from our children.

It’s all about the “now.”

As adults, we plan. We have family schedules, work schedules, school schedules, extra-curricular activity schedules…life is just one big schedule. And coordinating all of them just stresses people out.

Kids rarely plan. If allowed, they go wherever the mood takes them. Riding bikes is fun until something else catches their attention – and then it’s off to do the next fun thing. They’re like little whirlwinds of activity. But it’s more than that.

Honestly, who hasn’t wished that there was a way to tap into kid energy to get a project done? I think they have this energy because they live in the moment. If an activity isn’t fun or interesting anymore, they generally stop doing it and go in search of something else.

After some reflection, I’ve come up with a few life lessons that we can continue to learn from our children.

Kids enjoy what is happening at that very moment. If you take them to the park, they’re not thinking about how long they’re going to get to stay and planning what to do (well, most kids don’t). They run onto the playground and try everything they can right away – then they go back to the things they enjoy the most.

Lesson learned?

Live in the moment. Obviously, that’s not possible to do all of the time, because as adults we do have responsibilities that kids do not have. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look for those moments to live for and enjoy in the here and now.

Little can be big.

What excites kids most? Big, grand gestures or small things that are meaningful? Sure, a kid would love to go to Disneyland or an amusement park but those are often more of a surprise that is beyond their comprehension.

Have you ever seen your kids get excited about new crayons or a new coloring book? How about the latest book in a series they enjoy reading?

Or, even more importantly, a parent who is usually working finally being able to show up at a soccer game or dance recital – spending time with someone they don’t see often. I know someone whose grandson declares it “the best day EVER” each time he gets to visit her and swim in their pool.

Those seemingly little things that we often overlook as adults can mean the world to kids.

Lesson learned?

Embrace the little things. Cherish the time that you get to spend with loved ones. Take advantage of those commute hours by listening to books that you enjoy. Look for the small gestures that people make that are often overlooked, like a coworker bringing you a cup of coffee even though you didn’t ask them to. Find the good in people instead of the bad.

Those seemingly innocuous things are the ones that can matter the most.

Money isn’t everything.

This sort of goes along with the previous lesson. Big, fun, expensive activities can certainly be memorable. But money is not a guarantee to happiness.

Have you ever watched a cooking competition show on television, for example? Even if you haven’t, I’ll bet you can think of at least three people (on tv or in real life) who have memories of cooking with their mother or grandmother. Or maybe it’s sewing, quilting, knitting…any number of activities.

They aren’t just remembering the activity they are remembering the time that a person spent with them.

Lesson learned?

The best things in life are free. Giving someone your time and making an effort to create memories that can last a lifetime can be far more precious than an expensive gift or over-the-top vacation.

Dreams are awesome.

Think of a time you took your kids to an amusement park or a zoo. Were they excited? Was it the most amazing thing they’ve ever seen? How many times have you heard a kid proclaim that a gift was “exactly what they always wanted”? I always thought it was funny to hear a six-year-old proclaim they’d waited their whole LIFE for a gift they received.

Kids can find awesomeness in just about anything. They are full of wonder because so much is brand new to them. Everything has the potential to be amazing because they have no frame of reference for it to be something else.

Lesson learned?

Look for things that give you awe. As adults, it’s so easy to be jaded about…well, everything. We get caught up in life and forget how amazing it is to actually just be alive.

Find something that inspires awe in you. Beautiful sunsets, quiet walks in the woods or on a beach, someone overcoming a hardship to succeed…all of these things can create a sense of awe. They also give us permission to dream about what else could be awe-inspiring.

Now what?

This is by no means a comprehensive list. But it’s enough to give you a start, and in some ways, they all tie together. If you’re looking for simple inspirations, they might be found in the littlest gestures made by people without thought – but you have to be in the moment to recognize them.

Slow down for a minute and look around you and you might just be able to recapture some of that childhood magic and wonder.

But if all else fails, grab a coloring book, build a blanket fort, and put yourself in an adult time-out!

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